In the question Do you need to be able to see the Mage Hand to use it?, Mage Hand is described as being able to reach into containers:

Arcane Trickster level 3: Mage Hand Legerdemain PHB 98

....you can make the spectral hand invisible, and can perform the following tasks with it.....you can perform these tasks without being noticed by a creature if you succeed on a (Sleight of Hand) check contested by (Perception). You can use your bonus action granted by Cunning Action to control the hand.

  • You can stow one object the hand is holding in a container worn or carried by another creature

  • You can retrieve an object in a container worn or carried by another creature

  • You can use thieve's tools to pick locks and disarm traps at range

Mage Hand itself is described as being used to "stow or retrieve an item from an open container."

Given that Arcane Trickster enables a Mage Hand to be used even if invisible (i.e. the rogue doesn't need to see it) does this also imply that they can use Mage Hand in a container that is closed? (This is assuming the Hand was able to enter the container and then either close it - or have the container closed on it.)

For example, could a Mage Hand...(possible spoiler)

...close a chest from the inside and then turn a key located on the inside of the chest?

We ask this question because there is a recent adventurers league adventure where this described maneuver could be useful (spoiler):

Tomb of Annihilation Tomb of the Nine Gods has three chests with keys located on the inside of them that have to be turned. The chests lock the turner of the keys inside the chest.

  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ To be clear, you are asking if you can use MHL to go into a chest, close it, and then lock it from the inside? With the AT outside the chest? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 25, 2018 at 5:24
  • \$\begingroup\$ @Rubiksmoose Yes - AT is outside of the chest. MH is inside of the chest - closes it - and then perform an activity inside the chest (as described in the spoiler). \$\endgroup\$
    – Praxiteles
    Apr 25, 2018 at 5:31

1 Answer 1


No. Maybe. Yes. Depends on your GM.

Mage hand specifically says:

You can use the hand to manipulate an object, open an unlocked door or container.

The spell specifies you can only open unlocked containers. If the hand can't unlock a container why would it have the ability to lock one?

That being said, maybe, MHL says you can use it to pick locks, not the same thing but similar but maybe if your GM isn't a rules lawyer since opening with a key isn't technically picking.

And those boxes are a trap, so technically you are disarming a trap.

So in this case if he doesn't allow it you can argue that you can because you aren't picking a lock. I would allow it but I'm not your GM.

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    \$\begingroup\$ Are you saying that mage hand could not manipulate the key (an object) to unlock a door? \$\endgroup\$ Apr 25, 2018 at 6:29
  • \$\begingroup\$ I dont know how to do spoiler hiding. sorry \$\endgroup\$
    – Duck
    Apr 25, 2018 at 6:37
  • \$\begingroup\$ If I was Gm I would allow it if you can pick a lock you can turn a key but some might argue. \$\endgroup\$
    – Duck
    Apr 25, 2018 at 6:41
  • 1
    \$\begingroup\$ I think the specification for unlocked is just clarification that opening a locked door or container is not possible. Turning a key is fairly standard manipulation for mage hand in general, then once the door / lid is unlocked they can open it. \$\endgroup\$
    – SeriousBri
    Apr 25, 2018 at 9:15
  • \$\begingroup\$ Remember that an Arcane Trickster's Mage Hand Legerdemain is quite superior to the standard Mage Hand cantrip. I think it would be hard for a DM to argue that the AT's Mage Hand can pick a lock but not turn a key. \$\endgroup\$
    – Joshu's Mu
    Apr 25, 2018 at 13:15

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